Héma-Québec officially begins operations

SAINT-LAURENT, September 28, 1998 - HÉMA-QUÉBEC, Québec's new supplier of blood, begins its activities today, with the conclusion of an agreement with the Red Cross to transfer the blood supply program.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC has been issued an operating license by Health Canada and will hold 24 blood donor clinics this week in various regions of the province. The assets of Québec's blood program were transferred to HÉMA-QUÉBEC, free of any liability. These assets include the competent and qualified staff of the transfusion services - over 700 people - the premises, equipment and inventory.

Responsibility for blood quality according to Dr. Francine Décary, Executive Director: "HÉMA-QUÉBEC meets all of Health Canada's safety standards and was thus issued an operating licence." A nonprofit organization with no direct dependence on the Québec government, HÉMA-QUÉBEC has a mission to provide Quebeckers with safe blood components of optimal quality and in quantities that meet the needs of hospitals throughout the province, and to provide recognized expertise and specialized services in immunohematology.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC: responsible, autonomous and transparent
HÉMA-QUÉBEC is one of the three elements in Québec's new blood management structure, each of which has clearly defined responsibilities. HÉMA-QUÉBEC, as the supplier of blood and blood components, is responsible for ensuring product quality; the hospitals are in charge of ensuring the quality of transfusions; and the hemovigilance committee is responsible for monitoring risks associated with transfusions in Québec, and reports to Québec Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The supplier's board of directors represents all links in the "transfusion chain". The Québec cabinet is about to approuve the appointments to HÉMA-QUÉBEC's permanent board.

HÉMA-QUÉBEC has signed agreements with Canadian Blood Services, the agency that serves the rest of Canada. Under these agreements, the two organizations may exchange products as required. A computer link between the donor banks of the two organizations is established, enabling the sharing of information to ensure the safety of blood supply across Canada.

Self-financing
Beginning April 1999, HÉMA-QUÉBEC will be self-financing, from fees paid by the hospitals for the supply of blood components according to their needs.

2,000 clinics yearly
HÉMA-QUÉBEC's competent, qualified personnel are posted at the following locations: an operation centre in Montreal and another in Ste-Foy, and an administrative centre in Saint-Laurent, which will eventually include the Montreal operation centre. There are three permanent blood donor centres: one in Montreal, one in Ste-Foy (at the operation centre) and one in Québec City. Every year, HÉMA-QUÉBEC will organize nearly 2,000 blood donor clinics and deliver more than 450,000 blood components to Québec's 125 hospitals to meet the needs of 70,000 patients.

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